Facebook knows when we are going to die. It is the newest feature of the site. I logged into Facebook this morning, as has become the usual, there was a new alert at the top of the screen about some of the new changes that have been added to the site and my account. As a curious connoisseur of social media, I clicked the “more info” button to see which of my privacies had most recently been breached.
I scrolled through the usual tweaks and notifications that corporations were now keeping tabs on my Facebook likes and status updates. I read about my place on the “open graph,” the continued authorized fishbowl life I was agreeing to, and how it would help Mark Zuckerberg make my “web browsing experience even better than before.” All things that I am okay with as I have been continually numbed to my privacy needs and now feel the need to live in public.
But then I saw it. The last item on the list was simply labeled “Profile Expectancy.” The brief description was vague and required me to follow the link to “Read More” to understand what exactly the new “Profile Expectancy” feature entailed.
“Facebook has teamed up with the best Actuaries around the world to accumulate and process the ever increasing understanding of who each Facebook Profile represents, the lifestyle and habits they have, and based on this information, calculate their expected date of death, or as we refer to it, their Profile Expectancy.
A User’s Profile Expectancy can be shared or kept private, completely in the control of the User. Understanding our Users’ Profile Expectancy has been extremely helpful in our forward looking bandwidth and server planning and will save the company billions in years to come. Additionally, should a User choose to make their Profile Expectancy public, they will be able to use their customized link to streamline their approval process and receive discounts for life, health, and disability insurances from our list of approved providers. To see your Profile Expectancy, click HERE.”
I have never been more nervous about clicking a link in my entire life. Did I just read that Facebook, based on the information they’ve gathered from my Profile and my internet activity over the past 5 years had worked out my actuarial life expectancy. By clicking HERE I would be faced with the my expected “Profile Expectancy” and therefore faced with a prediction of my end of my days. What a sobering thought brought to me by Facebook. With the next page load, I would be know my expiration date.
As my mouse hovered over the link, I began thinking: Did my Gowalla check-ins at the gym offset the pictures from my friend’s bachelor party? Where the late night log-ins and early morning status updates evidence of my lack of sleep and therefore responsible for a shorter Profile Expectancy? Could I tweak by User behavior going forward and increase my Profile Expectancy? Was it too late to mend my ways or could I still live a better life? Did I even want to know what my number was?
And then I woke up.